The Loop

The Loop

According to science, there are four ways to ensure people won’t like you

October 18, 2017

Science is large, expansive and full of topics ranging from the inner workings of the human body, to the endless expanse above, to the uncontrollably rising seas that will one day soon flood Ohio. But because science needs clicks too it also concerns itself with things like “making people like you,” because scientists, like most people, are incredibly needy.

Making people like you is part of a field called Impression Management, which is currently being studied by professional grownups in the latest episode of “Jobs That Would Make My Coal Miner Great-Grandfather Spit Out His Half-Chewed Cigar and Curse in Slovak Before Returning to His 14-Hour Shift Underground.” (It’s a very long title, but we were too afraid of him to shorten it.) According to Psychology Today, the field of Impression Management involves two steps: 1. Choosing the image you want to convey and then 2. Conveying it. (I know. Maybe Trump’s right and we should stop funding research?)

Happily, there are lots of good ways to make a good impression! You could bring fresh daisies, offer a sack of fancy chocolates, or be a decent human being who doesn’t obsessively talk about your job or manipulate weaker people. But there are also bad ways to manage impressions, according to researchers at Utrecht University, who have clearly spent years studying members of my extended family. Here now, from their research, are four ways you might be making a lousy impression, and how to knock that s**t off:

1. Desperately comparing yourself to others: Turns out jerks who put others down to build themselves up come off like jerks! In the Utrecht study, participants met with an actor who either portrayed himself in “self-enhancing” (i.e. Trumpish) or “non-self-enhancing” (i.e. Tom Hanksian) ways. In the first instance, participants felt self-protective, which is generally not a great thing to feel around friends. The solution: When you’re about to say something that will put another person/group/gender/race down to inflate yourself, instead punch your own face. Will go over much better, and probably be pretty funny!

2. Twisting yourself into actual physical knots to brag about yourself without seeming to: According to the study, all the indisgestible passive-aggressive fakes you hate most on Instagram are actually worse in real life. The solution: Factor in “genuineness,” because perceived insincerity is mathematically worse than just being an ass. Also if you’re posting something in which you’re obviously trying to get something across without saying it outright, please insert your phone in the garbage disposal because literally everyone can see what you’re doing.

3. General free-floating hypocrisy: HEY GET THIS people who are frauds generally go unliked, and while I appreciate anyone who tries to get that message across I’m really thinking we could be focusing more on this rising sea level thing? The solution: Ugh if we had one we’d have figured it out by now.

4. Issuing really s**tty compliments: Including such intentional condescension as, “Brown usually makes you look fat but somehow that dress doesn’t,” or “Wow, your kid’s haircut make him look less homeless than usual” or “This is marginally funnier than your usual articles.” People do this because they want to be fake-nice but also keep the spotlights on themselves! It’s awful. How to get around being a jerk: You know the rule, if you can’t say anything nice, shove a wad of pumpkin goop into your mouth.

5. Telling the families of fallen soldiers that their loves ones knew what they were getting into: OK obviously I made that one up, no rational human being would do that.